Ashdown Forest, don’t I feel a tit!

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  • Ashdown Forest, don’t I feel a tit!
  • bigsi
    Member

    To answer your question – i dont know if it would rivial the Surrey Hills but it has the potential to be a great place to ride in the South East. However, IIRC people who have tried to get the rules changed in the past to allow mtber’s on to the forest have met with a brick wall of resistance and in some case’s have even had threats make against them if they continue with their campaigns.

    I believe i am right in saying that there is a body of individuals who are charged with overseeing the forest and they are not interested in opening up access to bearded maniacs on bikes who they perceive would ruin their little piece of countryside. At one stage there was a petition on the No10 Downing street website from someone who wanted to open up the forest,,, it didn’t get anywhere as far as i know.

    My parents live in Nutley on the edge of the forest and it always angers me whenever i walk my dogs there that MTB’s are not allowed to use this area but horses are.

    All of this above is from memory so might not be 100% accurate.

    RichPenny
    Member

    Just ride it anyway and plead ignorance if challenged. Near me there is an large wood called Grovely which has a mix of Bridleway, footpath and logging tracks which are not rights of way. Never had any problems riding wherever I wanted. In fact, when there are shoots on signs go up asking people to please stick to the designated rights of way. Obviously I’m happy to oblige, as I don’t want to get in anyones way.

    If they allow horses but not bikes, they can’t be concerned about erosion or worried about having people on their land. Just go for a ride up there and see what happens.

    avdave2
    Member

    I spent a whole day riding on the Ashdown Forest a few years ago wondering where all the mountain bikers were. We only realised it was off limits when we got home. No one said anything to us all day, I guess they didn’t know themselves.

    mingsta
    Member

    So was it any good?

    avdave2
    Member

    No not really. Most of it was pretty overgrown with nasty sharp things ripping away at your skin. There is quite a lot of nice road riding in the area though. It would be nice to see at least some of it opened up for bikes though. It would attract plenty of families as well as seasoned riders.

    mingsta
    Member

    Was browsing around the OS maps at Halfords in my lunchtime.

    Spotted the map for Ashdown forest (OS 135), noted the great big mass of green with nicely packed contour lines and excitedly purchased said map in the anticipation of a whole new world of riding outside of my surrey hills back yard!!!

    Got home, whacked “ashdown forest mtb” in to google and waited for the deluge of hits from local MTB clubs and tales of twisty singletrack. Er…but nada!

    So it turns out that the whole place is off limits to mountain bikers. What a bummer! To those of you who are familiar with the place, if, IF this wasn’t the case, as a location, would it have the potential to rival the surrey hills for quality of riding?

    woffle
    Member

    I was bought up about 2 minutes walk from Ashdown Forest and spent my youth until university knocking about on the trails until the rangers started cracking down. It could be amazing but unfortunately old bylaws have forbidden cycling. The argument they used to trot out was that allowing MTB’s onto the forest would mean more erosion – which is utter garbage as anyone knows who’s tried to walk on any of the paths that have been churned by horses.

    Unfortunately those with the power to change it have a vested interest in not doing so – it’s very popular with horse riders and the conservators all tend to be from the local ‘horsey’ set. They want to maintain the status-quo ie. nice and quiet with minimal people walking / cycling / using their forest. Recently there was a real effort to get the bylaws overturned arguing that it could bring a lot of money into the area with increased footfall. It was shot down in flames pretty quickly along the lines of not enough infrastructure, erosion etc etc.

    Twunts, the lot of them.

    Sugar2
    Member

    Near to me as I am in Tunbridge Wells, I do some road rides around there and often see MTBers in the morning skulking about, never been tempted to take my MTB there (may do so now) prefer the 9mile ish blat around Bedgebury early in the morning though before the place gets silly and overcrowded.

    woffle
    Member

    Glad to see it’s not just me that thinks that Bedgebury gets ridiculously, overly busy. It’s been a while since I’ve been but we went a couple of weekends ago with the kids and it was absolutely rammed.

    I’ve ridden there a couple of times but its not somewhere to write home about, though it could be…. 😉 The Bylaws thing is pretty amusing though. Wasn’t the current system of public access to the countryside brought about by mass tresspass and a high degree of ignoring ‘ownership’ of the countryside?

    HTTP404
    Member

    went a few weeks ago to Bedgebury.
    the car park got full in the afternoon but it didn’t feel that busy.
    the north shore is fun if you’ve not tried it before and the trails are well marked.
    but be warned i’ve heard its a mare if it rains.

    Sugar2
    Member

    Yes forget it if it rains GLOOP! I have been riding it 0630hrs on Saturday mornings has been frosty so been lovely, well it’s tame but as a traffic, horse and walker free off road environment it is rather a nice change here in the SE. Combining the Bewl route and Bedgebury is ‘nice’ as well.

    malc hales
    Member

    You could also try around Stamner Park on the outskirts of Brighton.Parking is free there`s quite a few trails in the woods.you can link it to the sdw as well.

    Premier Icon Jase_MK
    Subscriber

    I’ve ridden Ashdown Forest plenty of times as part of the Ace Races adventure race series that is hosted there every year. Meh, some ok trails but nothing to write home abaout, as mentioned earlier.

    Hello all, by the way
    /waves

    devs
    Member

    Go at night. Find/make/evolve some cheeky trails. I’d bet there are some already. England’s access laws suck.

    Premier Icon DaRC_L
    Subscriber

    You can’t expect too much – it’s only recently they’ve signed posted the way to Pooh Bridge.

    Up until then they’d spent decades trying to hide 100 Acre wood from the tourists.

    slugwash
    Member

    Back in the late 1980’s I used to work for the Ashdown Forest Conservators. There was a ‘network’ of self appointed ‘spies’ spread around the Forest who’d be on the phone to report any transgressions of the arcane local bye-laws and demand the implimentation of immeadiate action against the ‘perportrators’.

    Mountain biking was not so common in them days and most of the complaints related to people riding their horses on the Forest without a permit or campervans that had stayed too long in carparks and whose owners might be harbouring evil intentions to overnight on the Forest. Quite frankly, these snobbish, pompous, greengrassing, ****-wits made me sick. They reminded me of the despicable type of people who shopped their Jewish neighbours to the authorities when the Nazis invaded their countries in WWII. (Sorry, I’ve got strong feelings regarding access to Ashdown Forest).

    Anyway, we used to do a lot of cheeky riding in the woods around the Royal Ashdown Golf Course in Forest Row ‘cos it was good and the Rangers would never be able to track you down there with so many lanes and trails running around the area they wouldn’t know where to start. About time for a mass trespass I think.

    Sugar2
    Member

    I’m up for using the place!

    mudslinger
    Member

    There is a movement (website) to try to get MTBing allowed on the forest. They gave a presentation to the conservators but I believe the idea has been rejected again. The grounds being erosion (yet they allow horse riding!!!), management, conflict with other users etc etc. One excuse after another…

    Like has been said previously – it is managed by the horsey/walky types who don’t want MTBing there at any cost. The Conservators have decided that mountain-biking is an activity incompatible with maintaining the Forest as a quiet and natural area.

    In 2008 East Sussex CC gave them nearly £100K to manage the forest – surely they can’t be so discriminitive if public funds are involved?

    It really p1sses me off as we are severely limited to where we can ride in this area. Most local bridleways are ruined for at least 6 months of the year due to horses. So that leaves driving somewhere to go riding which I’d prefer not to do.

    woffle
    Member

    slugwash – I used to bomb about over the trails roughly between Forest Row (and the golf course), Nutley, Hartfield and Crowborough from about the time of the Storm onwards (on my pride and joy – a Saracen Kiliflyer in pink with a mix of Cooks Bros, Syncros, Campag, Magura and other random bike bits carefully bought using precious paper-round money).

    The Conservators were a bunch of self-serving, horse-riding eejits and it doesn’t look like much has changed since I went to uni and away from Crowborough in the late 1990’s.

    Wonder if our paths ever crossed? There was a bunch of us – used to do the old races round Bewl and a few were heavily involved in Porc when that first started out…

    slugwash
    Member

    Hi Woffle, I started working on the Forest on a conservation project a few days before the storm. We spent most of the next year chopping and burning fallen trees. In April 1988 I helped replant the devestated 500 acre wood (‘undred acre wood in the Pooh stories)with beech, oak, and chestnut saplings. It’s always pleasing to go back and see how the new woods coming on. I was Lewes based and did most of my cycling up on the glorious South Downs. I used to ride occasionally around Forest Row because my mate Chris lived there and we got into cycling at the same time and went on to do offroad touring and mountain biking in various parts of the globe. Ahh, memories! Never got round to going PORC unfortunately.

    Premier Icon Nick
    Subscriber

    I’m there for an Ace Race in a few weeks, never thought that moutain biking was prohibited. Sounds like a bunch of arse to me (like the New Forest then).

    Premier Icon Nick
    Subscriber

    Just googled it, apparently MTBing is encouraged?

    Ashdown Forest

    mudhound
    Member

    Can’t do links but tourist site is misleading and there is a conservators site including a 10 page paper concluding ban to continue

    cant do links
    http://www.ashdownforest.org/docs/Biking_issues_review_Feb_2009.pdf

    one reason is “it is likely that invertebrates have adapted to micro-habitats created by walkers or standing animals but not to the linear features created by bikes”

    Premier Icon Nick
    Subscriber

    lol, although not very funny

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    That situation looks eerily familiar to a new forest local, in that the principal argument appears to be that they like it how it is, and that they are in a position to keep it that way – so they will.

    Their pdf “report” is laughable, though more likely to make you mad (or ignore it, rather than engage contructively with them)

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